The Allbritton Center for the Study of Public life supports engaged scholarship on and off the Wesleyan campus. We define “Engaged Scholarship” as partnerships of university knowledge and resources with those of the public and private sectors to enrich scholarship, research, creative activity, and public knowledge; enhance curriculum, teaching and learning; prepare educated, engaged citizens; strengthen democratic values and civic responsibility; address and help solve critical social problems; and contribute to the public. A compendium of engaged scholarship and service by Wesleyan faculty may be found here.
Patricia M. Rodriguez Mosquera is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Wesleyan and the Director of the Culture and Emotion Lab. The lab uses a multi-method approach to study how people feel about their perceived social image. Their work explores social image in relation to diverse emotions (e.g., pride, anger, shame), across different social relations (e.g., interpersonal, intergroup), and in multiple countries and communities. For example, in response to the rise of Islamophobia since 9/11, Professor Rodriguez Mosquera published a study on Muslim Americans’ concerns and emotions in the days prior to the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
Recently, Professor Mosquera completed a study in concert with the Muslim Women’s Voices at Wesleyan series. “Muslim Women’s Voices at Wesleyan aimed to expand awareness, knowledge, and understanding of Muslim cultures through the lens of performance.” In a series of surveys, audience members were asked why they chose to go to the performance, their emotional state before and after the performance, and their attitudes and feelings toward Muslim cultures and communities. Measures were taken before a performance, after a performance, and one week after the performance. 441 audience members participated in the study.
The results are published in a report titled “Muslim Women’s Voices at Wesleyan: Understanding Muslim Cultures Through The Lens of Performance,” which is available here.
Taken together, the study’s findings showed that performances had a transformational effect on audience members’ feelings and attitudes toward Muslim cultures and communities. For example, millennials’ levels of interest in Muslim cultures increased post-performance. Moreover, performances also had a positive effect on audience members’ emotions. For example, audience members felt inspired by the performances, and feelings of inspiration were still lasting one week after the performance. Thus, this study showed that art performances are important transformational tools as they can elicit positive attitudinal and emotional changes toward cultures, religious communities, and art performances more generally.